Upon her return from maternity leave we spoke with one of our top managers about women and growth in the tech industry
Wix’s new Head of the Editor X group, Gali Erez, says that she feels ambivalent about having her Wix story published on International Women’s Day. “Making a special day for women keeps that notion of women being a different species,” she explains. “Yes, there are beautiful things that happen on this day and it’s an opportunity to talk about things that are not talked about enough, but the whole idea bothers me to the core. To me, every day is women’s day because we're just like any other human.”
We’re meeting less than 2 weeks after her return from an 8 month maternity leave to assume the leading role in our flagship product group. She’s super busy, but although having mixed feelings regarding the publication date, she still thought that she should use every opportunity to talk about how women can grow in the tech industry.
Gali joined Wix in 2015 as a UX Designer in the Editor team. “I remember that during my meeting at Wix my interviewer and I were walking around the hallways and everybody was moving around and drawing stuff and doing things. There was tons of action and I loved the vibe and thought to myself that this place is going to be a really good place for me,” she says.
She dived right in, and 5 months later - after the release of the new version of the Editor - Gali was offered her first promotion: to be a part of an internal UX task force that could be quickly moved into various projects across the company. Its first effort was to transform Wix’s support platform into Wix Answers - a platform that enables companies to provide online support for their users.
After completing the project Gali was asked to help assemble a UX team that was meant to work on the product that later on became our artificial intelligence editor, Wix ADI. By now she was managing 12 UX Designers from different teams but says that it came quite naturally to her, having been the oldest child in her family. “In the beginning I really enjoyed mixing hands-on work with helping people grow,” she says. “Later on, when my challenge was not only to build the teams but also to find the right team leads for all of them, it was a big step for me because I realized that my full focus should be on people and on the strategy of the product.”
Her passion towards leading and product building didn’t go unnoticed and in March 2019 Gali was promoted to Editor X’s Head of Product.
How did you manage people when you've never done their job?
“I think that as a manager you're dealing with people and what drives them and what they need, but I also worked really hard to close the gaps that I felt that I had on the professional level. I think I gained their trust by trying to listen and understand what they need and to be there for them but I also had the skills to guide them on the product level because it’s something that I was very passionate about.”
Gali says that since she was aiming at leading a whole product group at Wix - as opposed to being in charge of the product side of things within a group - she wasn’t very surprised when she was offered to become the Head of Editor X upon her return from maternity leave. “I think that from the minute I moved to do product related work, that was my north star. I love doing many things at the same time so I feel that it's a great fit for me. It's fun to come with a vision and to be able to make it happen, dealing with many different aspects, connecting them and having this overall view.”
Unfortunately our industry is male dominated. How do you feel as a woman in it?
“I'm not a very emotional person but after the news about my new role came out I was very moved by all the messages I got from women. They were excited and inspired to see a woman in a position like that, and especially excited to see a woman coming from a background in design in such a role. This industry is technological and although there’s change, there aren’t as many women studying computer science. I'm happy to see that changing and you see it in the rising numbers of women managers.”
Any advice for women aspiring for top managerial roles?
“Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg really influenced me. Basically what she’s saying there is that you got to lean in when it’s necessary, and I’ll give you some examples: If I walked into a meeting with all men executives, I would go and sit at the top of the table; If I would say something and nobody heard me, I wouldn't let go, and say ‘I want to say something. I need you to listen’. I did whatever I felt comfortable with, but I wanted to make sure that I'm being seen and that I'm not shying away from saying what I think. There are many ways to do that, but you need to speak and not be shy.”